Tennessee’s defense has seen a pocket passer and a dual-threat quarterback in each of the past two games.
They’ll see both in the same game Saturday.
“The good thing for us is that we’ve played Oregon, a quarterback-run team, and Florida, who wants to be a shotgun-pass team,” defensive backs coach Terry Joseph said.
“(UAB) is kind of a mixture of both.”
Blazers coach Neil Calloway announced Tuesday that redshirt junior Bryan Ellis will start when UAB visits Neyland Stadium Saturday (TV: WVLT, 12:21 p.m.).
Redshirt sophomore David Isabelle, who started UAB’s first three games, also will play, bringing his running ability to complement Ellis’ passing abilities.
The Vols (1-2) have to be ready for the contrasting styles.
“You have kind of your base game plan, and then when each guy is in you have stuff you like probably a little bit better,” UT defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said.
“You don’t really have time to have two totally different game plans, but I think you have certain things you like against each guy.”
Ellis completed 23-of-37 passes for 360 yards and three touchdowns in rallying the Blazers (1-2) from a 23-0 deficit and a 13-point margin in the fourth quarter to a 34-33 last-second win over Troy.
Isabelle ran for a Conference USA quarterback-rushing record 214 yards and accounted for four touchdowns in UAB’s season-opening loss to Florida Atlantic.
“One’s a very athletic guy, does a great job in the quarterback runs,” linebackers coach Lance Thompson said.
“Not many people do the quarterback runs to the extent that they do. We’ve got to prepare for everything they’ve shown either way.”
Wilcox, who said there isn’t too much changing personnel for the two quarterbacks, compared UAB’s spread to what Florida runs.
“More Florida than Oregon,” he said. “The tight end is a real important guy for them. I think there’s a lot of similarities between their offense and Florida’s.”
Heavy Emphasis: UT coach Derek Dooley said the Vols focused on third downs and red zone at Wednesday’s practice.
“Third down and red area, those are two things that are really hurting us,” Dooley said. “Third-and-seven and above, I mean we’ve been atrocious.”
UT ranks 118th in the country in converting third downs (9-for-43), ahead of only Florida International and San Jose State.
The Vols have scored just three touchdowns on eight red-zone trips and have allowed all seven of the opponents’ trips there to end in points.
“In the red area, we got to hold them to field goals and we hadn’t done that on defense, and we got to punch it in on offense, so that’s what the real emphasis was today.”
Seeing Red: Amidst the sea of orange and white practice jerseys Wednesday were four red non-contact jerseys.
Tailback Tauren Poole (thigh) and Denarius Moore (ankle) wore theirs for the second consecutive day. Receiver Zach Rogers (shoulder), who wore one during most of last week’s practices, also wore red.
Receiver Gerald Jones was back in pads and a red jersey with the splint on the broken bone in his hand. He won’t play against UAB.
“We’ll know more next week on him,” Dooley said. “He can run around, he just can’t do anything with his hand.”
Status Update: Linebacker Herman Lathers (leg) is also an injury concern for Saturday.
Patrick Brown is a freelance contributor.